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A Coach of Coaches

Longtime coach embraces administrative role

By Tony Rehagen

Earlier in her career, as a softball coach, Keri Becker amassed a 433-276 record at Ferris State. DOUG WITTE / GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY

Keri Becker says she was “born and raised” in Division II athletics.

From her beginnings as a four-time all-conference softball player at Saginaw Valley State University, to two years as an assistant there, through her transition to becoming Ferris State University’s all-time winningest head coach, Becker has always valued the intimacy between administrators, coaches and student-athletes in Division II.

Becker’s journey reaches its peak this summer as she takes over for the retiring Tim Selgo as director of athletics at Grand Valley State University. It’s the culmination of an epiphany she had about halfway through her coaching career.

“As much as I loved coaching, I couldn’t see myself being the little old gray-haired lady running around the softball field,” she says. So she started taking on administrative duties – like budgets and compliance – on the side.

In 2011, she reluctantly left coaching for good, accepting the Grand Valley State associate athletics director role under the legendary Selgo. Becker says one of her main concerns when leaving the field for the administrative side was losing that connection with athletes. But Selgo showed her that the impact of administrators actually could be greater than that of a coach – if they get out of their office and be present.

“You still have the opportunity to go on the field,” she says. “I went from being a coach of athletes to a coach of coaches, challenging them to evolve and grow and ensure that our student-athletes have the best possible experience.”

Becker says the college athlete experience should include development, graduation and winning games.

“The biggest challenge is winning. Always has been, always will be,” Becker says.

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.